Sunday Reading

by zunguzungu

“Cellular phones have become the virtual biographer of our daily activities. It tracks who we talk to and whe r e we are. It will log calls, take pictures, and keep our contact list close at hand. In short it has become an indispensable piece of evidence in a criminal investigation.

Want to know where your suspect was last Saturday? The cellular service provider can provide you the location information of the cellular phone as it relates to the provider’s network. What about the last person your victim called? Both the cellular phone and the cellular provider will keep a record of this. How about finding gang member photos associated with their gang moniker? It will be located within their cellular phones.”

It’s almost as if they’re taking money from students to make new buildings:

Some $11 billion in new facilities have sprung up on American campuses in each of the last two years—more than double what was spent on buildings a decade ago, according to the market-research firm McGraw-Hill Construction—even as schools are under pressure to contain costs.

“You can go into any community and talk to somebody whose son or daughter either can’t get in or can’t finish [college] because they can’t get this or that course,” says David Wolf, cofounder of the Campaign for College Opportunity, which lobbies for higher education in California. “Meanwhile, they go on campus and there’s all that fresh cement. That’s embarrassing, and it’s wrong.

Flunking the Test:

Check out some of the 544 articles that mentioned “failing schools” in January; they constitute an encyclopedia of loaded rhetoric, vapid reporting and unchallenged assumptions. In dozens and dozens of articles, the phrase isn’t defined; it is simply accepted as commonly understood. “Several speakers said charter schools should only be allowed in areas now served by failing schools,” the Associated Press wrote of a Mississippi charter school proposal. The passive construction of the phrase is telling: The schools are failing, not administrators, superintendents, curriculum writers, elected officials, students or their parents.

The running mate of “failing schools” in education stories is “reform.” The word suggests a good thing – change for the sake of improvement. But in news accounts, the label often is implicitly one-sided, suggesting that “reformers” (such as proponents of vouchers or “school choice”) are more virtuous than their hidebound opponents. Journalists rarely question the motives or credentials of “reformers.” The Hartfort Courant hit the “reformer-failing schools” jackpot when it reported, “Like most people seeking education reform this year..the council wants policies that assure excellent teaching, preschool for children whose families can’t afford it, and help for failing schools.”

This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook:

The only way to really explain Girls Around Me to people is to load it up and show them how it works, so I did. I placed my iPhone on the table in front of everyone, and opened the app.

The splash screen elicited laughter all around. It’s such a bitmap paean to the tackiest and most self-parodying of baller “culture”; it might as well be an app Tom Haverford slapped together in Parks And Recreation. But it does, at a glance, sum up what Girls Around Me is all about: a radar overlaid on top of a Google Map, out of which throbs numerous holographic women posing like pole dancers in a perpetual state of undress.

“Okay, so here’s the way the app works,” I explained to my friends.

And no, that last one is Not an April Fool

Som Jadaliyya media roundups:

Marx at 193:

In trying to think what Marx would have made of the world today, we have to begin by stressing that he was not an empiricist. He didn’t think that you could gain access to the truth by gleaning bits of data from experience, ‘data points’ as scientists call them, and then assembling a picture of reality from the fragments you’ve accumulated. Since this is what most of us think we’re doing most of the time it marks a fundamental break between Marx and what we call common sense, a notion that was greatly disliked by Marx, who saw it as the way a particular political and class order turns its construction of reality into an apparently neutral set of ideas which are then taken as givens of the natural order. Empiricism, because it takes its evidence from the existing order of things, is inherently prone to accepting as realities things that are merely evidence of underlying biases and ideological pressures. Empiricism, for Marx, will always confirm the status quo.

Occupy Oakland, January 28, Explained